BLAZE coach Marc LeFebvre is anticipating one of the toughest Elite League campaigns in recent memory as his side continue preparations for the 2014/15 season.
Le Febvre’s side take on Sheffield Steelers in a double header this weekend before travelling to Cardiff for one final challenge match next Wednesday.
No fewer than ten imports have arrived at the Skydome this summer including Derek Lee and Canadian Jereme Tendler.
First practice was held on Monday morning and Le Febvre was happy with what he saw from his newly formed squad.
“The past four months have gone really fast but it was nice to get everyone together and the guys were looking very sharp,” Le Febvre told the Observer.
“The one thing which really impressed me was they were all in good shape.
“The fact I had the team signed up by the end of July has helped. I made sure I got in early.
“I have been on the phone to the guys for the past month going through systems and how I want to play so they had a good idea before they arrived and they got straight into the groove.
“We’ve got some good characters through the door who we’ve researched so we’re hoping to be very competitive this season.
“But a lot of teams in this league have done the same thing so it’s going to be very competitive and exciting for our supporters.”
One player singled out by the Blaze coach is Canadian forward Tendler.
The 30-year-old, who joined from rivals Hull Stingrays this summer, needed less than five minutes to score his first goal for Blaze as they began preparations for the new campaign with a 3-2 win over Cardiff Devils at the Skydome on Wednesday night.
“I thought Tends had a great game and he also made a great pass for Derek Lee’s goal.
“He is dangerous whenever he is out on the ice – short-handed, on the powerplay or even strength. No-one has scored more goals than him in this league over the last four years.
“Tends is also a great team-mate and the guys love him already. He is the overall package and we are pleased to have him on our side.”
British-born Canadian, LeFebvre, took charge of Blaze back in February following the departure of Matt Soderstrom.
And he has been given the task of guiding the club to their first title in four years.
Asked if he felt any pressure, he said: “I don’t feel any pressure.
“I know this is a huge club with big expectations and I’m excited about our chances this season.
“I had 13 games last season and I learnt a lot about myself and the club.
“It’s going to be difficult this season so we need to show up and compete in every match.
“But I’m really excited for that first fixture against Fife – I can’t wait.”